This has been a fantastic holiday season. Above the stress, hustle, bustle, and more hustle, I have found a peace in my God that I haven't experienced for a long time. Things have happened, and whether or not I remember to write in my prayer journal, I remember to talk to God. When I'm excited, when I'm beaten down, when I'm scared, I'm able to carry on those conversations with Him I recently thought I had forgotten how to orchestrate.
Allow me to be ultimately reflective. And long-winded.
I do not like birds. At all. Birds give me the heebie jeebies. They're so fragile, yet so aggressive, and so .... complicated. Plus, they carry diseases. I know this, because my mother raised me to know that I should never touch a bird, because birds carry diseases. I tell a story of one day hitting a bird with my car and driving around (for about 70 miles) with it on my windshield, before finally going to my dad and asking him to remove said bird. It has always been a funny, entertaining story. Several years after it happened, I realized how relative it was to my spiritual walk. Here I go, around for ever and ever with this huge, disgusting obstacle in my life, and it doesn't go away no matter what I do ~ until I take it to my Heavenly Father. God used a bird...a dead bird, to draw me nearer to Him. Something I can't stand, God used for His glory and to show me His love and mercy. A dead stinking bird! I still tell the story, but it has a different ending now. A meaningful one. His love, shown through something I hated.
My teenage years were brutal. I was morbidly depressed, miserable, involved in harmful relationships, easily misled....as a whole, I cannot look back on my teenage years with any sense of pride or dignity. I despised my life as a teenager, and no amount of money or persuasion could convince me to give those years another go. As a result, I harbored a lot of ill-will toward teenagers in general. I knew what they were up to, what they were trying to pull, what they wanted to get away with, and I had nothing but contempt for teenagers in my heart. My best friend asked me to serve on team at Chrysalis. (If you're not familiar with Chrysalis, check it out here) First, I sat in disbelief that she would even consider asking me. She knew how I felt about teenagers. She knew my disdain, and she knew the pain it rendered within me to think about having to relate to people from such a sore spot in my past. I bawled at her dining table. I sat, head in hands, and cried for almost an hour. That night, God used my best friend to reach me in a way I'll never forget. She looked me square in the eye, and rather matter-of-factly asked me, "Did you stop to think that because of your past, and because of how you are intuitively aware of what teens are thinking, God wants to use you specifically for this purpose?" I couldn't play a woe-is-me card that would have debunked her words. She wasn't sympathetic, no matter how much snot, sniffle, or salty tears I tried to decorate her table with. She was right. I had to own up. I had to reconcile with evils I never wanted to face again...and not for my benefit, or necessarily for the benefit of these teens, but for His glory. I fought it...right up until the day those teens walked through the doors to start their weekend retreat, I fought it. I don't know if I had any influence or impact on those teens that weekend, but I will tell you that God softened my heart. God broke down walls and I was given a new purpose that weekend ~ to love teens like I never thought possible. The girls who were at my table have left lasting footprints on my heart, and I still pray over them. The teens I met who served on the leadership team that weekend were incredible, and I still keep in touch with some of them. God used the most painful, hated era of my life, to once again show me his grace and mercy. That weekend at Chrysalis changed my life. God healed me of my contempt and disdain, and those blessed teenagers were His choice vessels. Smelly, hyper, mouthy teenagers! I love those teens.
I don't know what God has in store for me next. I don't know if my next "aha!" moment will come from someone pulling out in front of me, or over anything involving raw fish....but I'm on to Him now. I've seen how He uses things I hate, or can't stand, or have a real problem with, to draw me nearer to Him. The unfortunate thing, is He has such a long list to draw from. Or maybe it isn't so unfortunate. The fact that my God delivers me from bondage, and actively pursues me, using whatever methods possible ~ that says more to me than anything.
Believe me when I say this ~ there is nothing in your life that can't work for the greater good. He's with you now. Regardless of how good, bad, or indifferent things are, He's there. "Enjoy the quiet moments, for that is when God whispers when the world is loud."